Idrisi, Abu Abdallah Muhammad IBN Muhammad Al

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Idrisi, Abu Abdallah Muhammad IBN Muhammad Al


Born in 1100, in Ceuta, Morocco; died there in 1161 or 1165. Arab geographer and traveler. Studied in Cordoba.

After his journeys through Portugal, France, England, and Asia Minor circa 1138, al-Idrisi moved to Palermo, where he lived at the court of the Sicilian king Roger II (ruled 1130–54). On the king’s commission, he made a map of the world as known at that time (in the form of a silver disk and on paper) and wrote the accompanying work, The Entertainment for Him Who Yearns to Traverse the Entire World (Nuzhat al-Mushtak fi Ikh-tiraq al-Afaq; sometimes called the Book of Roger, completed in 1154). He divided the earth into seven climates (with ten sections in each climate).

His book, which includes descriptions of all climates and maps for them, is a valuable source for the history and historical geography of Europe and Africa. It contains interesting materials on the history of the Eastern Slavs, the Turkomans, and several other peoples of the USSR. Al-Idrisi’s sources were personal observations and the information he drew from the tales of travelers, merchants, seamen, pilgrims, and people expressly sent by Roger II to study various countries. Idrisi also drew on the works of ibn Hurdadhbah, Yaqubi, ibn Hawkal, Masudi, and other Arab geographers and travelers.


Materialy po istorii turkmen i Turkmenii, vol. 1, Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Izbr. soch., vol. 4, Moscow-Leningrad, 1957. Pages 281–99.
Drevnie i srednevekovye istochniki po ethnografii i istorii narodov Afriki iuzhnee Sakhary, vol. 2: Arabskie istochniki X-XII vekov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Lewicki, T. Polska i kraje sasiednie w swietle ksiegi Rogera, vols. 1–2. Krakow-Warsaw, 1945–54.
Nedkov, B. Bulgariia isusednite izemiprezXII v. spored “Geografiiata”na Idrisi. Sofia, 1960.
Oman, G. “Notizie bibliografiche sul geografo arabo al-Idrisi ….” Annali dell’Istituto universitario Orientate di Napoli, new series, 1961, vol.11.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.